V8 – The Importance of Durable Teams
One of the benefits of creating agile teams is the confidence they gain through learning about each others strengths and weaknesses. A self-directed team will adopt its own way of solving problems to maximize efficiency based on what they know of each other. The longer team members stay together, the better they are.
Use this variant shortly after the teams start getting the hang of what they are doing and especially if the teams have adopted different solutions or methods. Grab two team members from one team, and swap them for two team members on another. Don’t give the teams any extra time before the next iteration starts.
Origin: One of my clients had a habit of letting their managers reassign team members at will. The rationale was that the managers knew their people best, and were moving them like pieces on a chessboard to whichever team they thought would benefit the most from that resource’s expertise. The teams never seemed to gel. Every retrospective started with a fight about how the ‘new’ team members liked their previous team’s way of doing things better. The result was less a collaborative team effort, and more of a transactional relationship. There was no reason to learn to work together as anyone could be reassigned at a moments notice.
Reality Check: Unfortunately, the practice of team member rotation is flawed from an agile perspective, as this variant will illustrate. Well-functioning teams learn how to work together. They have unique ways of facing their unique challenges. When you drop strangers into that mix, the teams have to re-form and re-normalize before they figure out how to work efficiently. Especially if their former teams did things differently. Velocity of the teams will drop, and the likelihood of errors will increase.
Reality Hurts: I lied a little. It wasn’t just one client.